gulfcoastclassyWe’re in the process of booking Best of Times for the summer.  Our renters are mostly families who live in Texas suburbs and come to the coast for vacation. Back home, their planned-community homes are brick, and big, and beautiful. Six-foot privacy fences separate yards, and these yards are filled with trampolines, swimming pools, and swing sets. Every day landscaping crews descend on lawns to manicure the grass and shrubs. Sleek, earth-toned minivans discreetly pull into garages. The silent doors roll down with the family nestled safely inside.

In these Texas suburbs–in McKinney, and Round Rock, and Katy–life is very orderly. Our HOA fines us for grass growing in the sidewalk cracks. When I walk our dog the night before trash pick-up,  almost-new patio sets wait by the curb. The family has upgraded to a newer, sleeker sets and have thrown out the slightly used one.

Across the Gulf coast, the plants win. A yard in Galveston is more similar to one in Houma, Louisiana than it is to one in Katy, Texas. Viney grass grows in webs across yards. The soil is sandy and full of clay. Fire ants and cockroaches might hide in the suburbs, but they are braver on the coast. Citizens of the Gulf Coast are busy battling the wind and water and don’t try to control the insect population. It probably wouldn’t do any good if they did, nature rules on the Gulf Coast.

Those who love Texas’ coastal cities seem to have accepted this terrain. They’ve given up trying to manicure their wiry yards and let oleanders and palm trees grow wild. They love the water, not the grass. No thick, green lawns here. No order. No privacy fences. Classy means very shabby chic. The look here is rugged, and a little redneck.

Will this aesthetic offend our suburban renters? Do they come to Galveston expecting pastel, Popsicle-colored row houses? Do they want LA, with sleek, orderly homes? Will they complain they’ve paid to sit on deck furniture that already looks worn, that is already losing its fight against the Gulf breezes? Will they be disappointed to find find sticker burrs in the grass and no sidewalks?

I don’t think so. These families from Boerne and The Woodlands come to the coast for exactly these reasons. They come to let their kids run in the street and sand. They come to live a little rugged and redneck, just like what they remember from their own childhoods.

On the Gulf Coast, parents don’t mind the lack of sidewalks because there are no speeding minivans here. At the beach, families travel in the back of pick-up trucks or smushed into golf carts because you can hear the water better like this.  Suburban families don’t mind sitting on patio furniture they would throw away at home. At the beach, they understand the wind and water win. Nature gets her say here, and they’re good with that.

On the Gulf Coast, orderly, manicured, and sleek don’t stand a chance. The climate and community will not be tamed.

This is Gulf Coast Classy.






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